It’s quite incredible how distant the elite teams are in comparison to the awful teams in the NBA. If you look at the standings and the rosters, there are only a handful of teams with a legitimate shot to win the NBA Title this season: Golden State, Houston, San Antonio, Cleveland, Boston and Toronto. Even such, Houston has an outside shot, Toronto could face extended time without Lowry and Boston needed one more playmaker to have a shot and they failed to get one at the trade deadline. All in all, it looks like a threepeat of a Golden State/Cleveland Finals, and I’m all for that.
Despite the good, there is some real BAD going on in the NBA with many teams in disarray. Let’s examine them. In no particular order:
Chicago Bulls: They came into the season with some optimism, as they got Dwayne Wade to come home, Rajan Rondo to distribute the ball, and Jimmy Butler a year older. This, alongside some young guns upfront, looked to be a reason to cheer. Instead, Rondo has underperformed and the aformentioned young guns forgot how to play hard, resulting in this:
So they went from full optimism to futility in a matter of weeks. The trade deadline came and went with constant rumors of Butler being dealt to the Celtics, but that never happened. That said, this is yet another set of rumors regarding Butler that we’ve heard (the first being in the pre-season with him going to Minnesota for Rubio and a pick). We also have their other best player being old with nothing really left to prove, probably wondering what the heck he got himself into. And then we have a bunch of players who feel disrespected after being called out publicly by their teammates, which is a definite no. WOW. Not good there, but they still make money and they don’t seemingly care about winning as much as the dollars and cents of it, so expect mediocrity for awhile.
New York Knicks: What a tumultuous time it has been for fans of their beloved Knicks. Where to start: They sign ridiculous contracts just to field a team but overpay mediocre players; Derrick Rose disappears without telling anyone where he is, their GM publicly tries to exile their best (overpaid) player who wants to stay and help; their owner has an alumni dragged, beaten and banned from MSG for reasons we can only imagine. It’s insane how comical and sad their season has been. It’s great reality TV! I be they wish their season actually looked like this instead:
Sacramento Kings: Just when you thought they may have gotten back on track and finding a way to win (they were a game back of the 8th playoff spot), Vlade Divac pulled off the worst trade in NBA history, as he traded away DeMarcus Cousins for a pick, your mom and your mom’s friends. It was ridiculous in the sense that he was scoring over 27 PPG at the time of the trade, and received back 27 career points (okay, Buddy Hield had been having a good season and was highly drafted, albeit in a weak draft). But he did get a 1st pick back for this upcoming draft, which, some say, has franchise changing players in the deepest draft in years, so, perhaps if the Pelicans lose, they can have two lottery picks. So, they can rebuild, right? Not so fast. If history teaches us anything, they won’t, because they’ve drafted middle to below average players in the past as well as letting go of star talent for dirt cheap (Isaiah Thomas and Hassan Whiteside would look pretty awesome back in Sacramento). Instead, they owe picks for previous awful deals and will find it incredibly tough to entice any player to come for other than the money.
Brooklyn Nets: Possessing the league’s worst record and roster isn’t startling when you look at who is on their team. Outside of Brook Lopez, they don’t have much in the way of talent that scares many other teams, like Jeremy Lin and Trevor Booker. What makes it awful is that they are still recovering from their all-in trade with Boston years ago when they did this (specifically look at 1:00):
The Nets did NOT win much of anything after that trade and gave up any chance of rebuilding by dealing away those picks. Furthermore, they were cap hit for years, limiting themselves for any player movement without looking like they made a mistake. Now that they’ve lost all of those players and have nothing to show for it, they’re in rebuild mode until the next decade.
There are also some teams in disarray for this year only: Indiana expected to do better than they have and it’s taken awhile for them to gel. If they can’t get it going, they’ll be in trouble as we’ve heard rumblings of Paul George wanting to play as a Laker. Detroit was supposed to be much better, but Reggie Jackson (and his not overly expensive contract) haven’t lived up to expectations, resulting in rumors of a rebuild there. Milwaukee has been injury ridden for two years now and perhaps their time is running out before they try to rebuild again. Minnesota went all in on a rebuild and has struggled mightily with their (healthy and injured) talent, but who knows what will happen there. I think all of these teams written about here will right the ship next season, but there’s a chance that one or none of them won’t.
Weird how there truly is the good, the bad and the ugly here. And there you have it.